Australian Grand Prix F1 2019 RECAP: Bottas BEATS Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari off the podium

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Bottas jumped ahead of Vettel from the start into the first corner and was ahead of his team-mate for the entire race.

Max Verstappen completed the podium after a classy overtake of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel – who at one point asked the Prancing Horse’s pitwall why they were running so slow.

Vettel and new team-mate Charles Leclerc came fourth and fifth, well off of Mercedes’ one-two.

Elsewhere, there was huge disappointment for Daniel Ricciardo in his home race with the Australian forced to retire after 31 laps.

2019 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX RECAP

7am: Well, that’s all we’ve got time for.

Thanks for joining Express Sport for the 2019 season’s opening race. It was an interesting one.

You suspect Ferrari will be the team with the most to talk about tomorrow. “I guess we were just slow,” a disheartened Vettel says to Sky.

Pre-season testing indicated that the Prancing Horse might be pushing Mercedes but they were way, way off today. Vettel was 51.7secs off Hamilton, in fact.

Perhaps things will change in Bahrain in two weeks’ time. 

Plenty to talk about between now and then – and at Express Towers we’ll bring you all the news you need to know from now until December 1st!

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

6.45am: Bottas takes the fastest lap and after one race, leads Hamilton by eight points.

Mercedes on 44 points to Ferrari’s 22 with their strong start in the constructors’ championship.

Great start for the Silver Arrows, perhaps not so good for the F1 fans hoping their dominance was over.

“I don’t know what just happened,” Bottas tells Martin Brundle. “It was definitely my best race ever. I need to enjoy today.”

Hamilton offers the Finn him a quick handshake before he’s off to the scales.

He then says: “It’s a good weekend for the team, I have to be happy for everyone. Valtteri drove an incredible race today so he truly deserves it. It’s a great, great start to the year as a team – more than we hoped for.”

Verstappen’s next. He tells Sky F1: “Pretty pleased with that. To start the season on the podium challenging the Mercedes car ahead is a very positive start for us.”

6.40am: Verstappen can’t quite catch Hamilton, who comes home in second – but 20 seconds behind Bottas.

For a fourth straight season, the Brit is runner up in Melbourne.

That’s despite having been on pole, just as he was last year when he came behind Sebastian Vettel.

Ferrari aren’t even on the podium as Vettel finishes fourth with Leclerc in fifth, a little over a second behind. Appears though he was told to back off having been on the charge.

A sublime result for third-placed Verstappen in Red Bull’s first race with a Honda power unit.

“How about that? F**k yeah!” says Bottas to his team radio.

VALTERRI BOTTAS WINS THE 2019 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX!

LAP 57

Verstappen is within DRS range of Hamilton while Bottas looks to steal the fastest lap again.

And that he does, with a 1:25.580.

LAP 55

Business end of the race now.

Verstappen has the gap to Hamilton back down to 1.3secs. 

The Red Bull ace takes fastest lap away from Bottas too, which the Finn won’t be all that pleased about.

LAP 52

Leclerc absolutely flying. Vettel is just 0.7secs ahead now but whether he goes for the overtake or not may depend on the Ferrari pitwall.

Mercedes driver Bottas insists he wants the 26 points when he asks if he can pit for fresh tyres.

He’s told, quite firmly, no – because the Silver Arrows don’t want to take any risks. 

Bottas has just passed 11th-placed Gasly.

LAP 49

Leclerc cutting into Vettel’s lead. A 12-second gap is now down to less than 2secs. 

The youngster’s tyres are fresher, but a slower compound, while Vettel continues to struggle for speed.

Verstappen then takes a little trip on to the grass – could it cost him? It’s certainly allowed Hamilton to get a bit clearer. 3.4secs the gap now.

LAP 48

Bottas subtly told to take his foot off the pedal a bit as his engineer tells him the only way he won’t win the race is if his Mercedes does not have “enough rubber” for a safety car – which would prompt a flurry of pit stops from the cars behind him. 

What drama will these final 10 laps bring us? Vettel is 1.5secs behind Hamilton in the battle for second.

LAP 45

Bottas has never not won a race that he has led for 20 laps. He’s 25secs clear now.

Verstappen’s race engineer, meanwhile, tips him to have 10 laps of fun at the end. Can he catch Hamilton for second?

LAP 44

“Why are we so slow?” Vettel asks.

“We don’t know at the moment,” is the response he gets. Not going well.

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